Write It Sideways

Make NaNoWriMo the Gift that Keeps on Giving

Today’s post is written by Amanda L. Barbara.

For writers just cooling down from NaNoWriMo, it’s tempting to lose steam as the holidays approach. Your weekend calendar is filling up with parties and family get-togethers, and you probably feel like you deserve a victory lap after a month of such high productivity.

But whether or not you actually hit your goal of 50,000 words, December does not have to be the lost month between NaNoWriMo and your New Year’s writing resolutions. You can maintain that sense of urgency as you finish your manuscript, delve into editing, and set yourself up for publication.

Why the NaNoWriMo Mentality Works

The most valuable part about NaNoWriMo is that it puts pressure on writers to write. Since most budding authors work on their novels alongside full-time jobs and other responsibilities, just sitting down and getting the words out can be the biggest hurdle.

Having a specific goal and a deadline encourages you to write with abandon, but this doesn’t have to be limited to one month a year. You can and should set specific, measurable goals for your writing, and these can include editing and publishing.

NaNoWriMo also gives writers a chance to connect and share in the writing process, which holds you accountable and gives you the chance to network with others in the writing community. If you plan to publish the novel you’ve produced, this network of authors is going to be even more critical as you begin promoting your finished work.

Here are a few tips for maintaining your NaNoWriMo momentum this month and throughout 2014 as you prep your book for publication:

1. Just keep writing.

If you’re still working on that novel, don’t go back to reread or edit anything—yet. Just keep charging forward. Learning to separate writing from editing makes the entire publishing process move faster and keeps you from second-guessing yourself as you put words on paper.

2. Set daily writing goals.

Writing a novel is a daunting task; editing and publishing a novel can seem like an even bigger undertaking. During NaNoWriMo you probably had small daily goals to make your big goal more manageable. Whether that’s writing 1,000 words per day, editing a chapter, or proofreading for an hour, you should continue to track your progress at every stage.

3. Take it one step at a time.

NaNoWriMo is all about achieving a word count, not producing a perfectly polished novel. Allow yourself to focus on each step without skipping ahead to worry about how many downloads you’ll have on launch day, or what your cover will look like.

4. Reach out to the writing community.

The community of writers who flock to NaNoWriMo don’t just disappear when the event ends. Most people in the indie author community are happy to share what they know—including referrals. If you’re looking for a great editor or cover designer, there’s no better place to start than with some of your favorite indie authors. Chances are, they know freelancers who do good work at a reasonable rate.

5. Tell everyone you know.

Committing to NaNoWriMo helps writers achieve their goals because there’s a community holding them accountable. As you begin preparing your novel for publication, keep your friends, family, and extended networks updated on your progress.

Send a polished draft to a handful of trusted beta readers, and post your cover design on Facebook to get feedback. Not only can the people in your network provide you with encouragement and support, but they’ll also feel more invested in your final product once it’s released.

6. Use a countdown to build anticipation.

Good editing and quality cover designs are expensive, but crowdfunding can be an excellent way to raise money to produce a professional book. Most crowdfunding platforms provide the option of collecting funds during a set period of time. Boost that sense of urgency by limiting the campaign to 30 days. That allows you to concentrate your promotional efforts on a shorter timeframe and build anticipation within your network.

You may be feeling exhausted from your November writing marathon, but focus on ending the year on a good note. Use the holidays to share your excitement with friends and family, and let that renew your own joy in writing.

You may be thinking all you want for Christmas is a published novel, but when you focus on hitting new writing goals all year, NaNoWriMo becomes the gift that keeps on giving.

Amanda L. Barbara is Vice President of Pubslush. Pubslush is a global crowdfunding publishing platform for authors to raise funds, gauge their audience for new book ideas, and for trendsetting readers to pledge their financial support to bring books to life. Follow Amanda on Twitter!